SF Sheriff Mirkarimi Changes Lawyer In Abuse Case

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Ross Mirkarimi, San Francisco, Board of Supervisors,

Ross Mirkarimi (City and County of San Francisco)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5 / KCBS) – Embattled San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi parted ways with his attorney Wednesday on the eve of a scheduled court hearing in his domestic violence case, and also as prosecutors released their witness list for his upcoming trial.

San Francisco attorney Robert Waggener had represented the sheriff since a police investigation began into allegations that he abused his wife, but Mirkarimi has now retained Berkeley attorney Lidia Stiglich. There was no immediate reason given for the split.

Stiglich is now expected to be in court with Mirkarimi on Thursday for a hearing that could decide whether he can see his family again after being charged with domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness.

The three misdemeanor charges stem from a New Year’s Eve domestic dispute involving his wife, Eliana Lopez, during which their 2-year-old son Theo was present. The judge in the case also ordered the 50-year-old Mirkarimi to stay away from his wife and son, but he is seeking the removal of the stay-away order.

Meanwhile, court documents released Wednesday show a former girlfriend – who made claims that she too was abused by Mirkarimi – is one of a handful of names on the prosecution’s witness list for Mirkarimi’s scheduled Feb. 24 trial.

Christina Marie Flores filed a police report this past weekend, claiming that while she was in a relationship with Mirkarimi three years ago, he was physically abusive to her.

In the SFPD report, Flores said Mirkarimi showed a “raging pitbull aggressiveness” and in one incident, he pinned her against a wall and shook her, bruising her upper arm.

Mirkarimi was serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors at the time the pair dated. He was sworn into office as sheriff earlier this month.

In all, there are 18 names on the prosecution’s witness list — including Mirkarimi’s Webster Street neighbors, Ivory Madison and Callie Williams. Mirkarimi’s wife is also on the list, even though she has stood by her husband and denied that he is a threat to her.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

However, prosecutors said they have a video of Lopez that shows her with a bruise on her arm and telling Madison that she was hurt by Mirkarimi during a fight at the couple’s home on Dec. 31.

Legal analyst Steven Clark said the prosecution had no choice but to put Lopez, a former Venezuelan telenovela star, on the witness list.

“In order for the district attorney to get in the videotape, they’re going to have to establish that she’s unavailable,” said Clark. “And one reason she’s unavailable is because she’s refusing to testify.”

Clark said that if Lopez does refuse to testify, she can be held in contempt but cannot be sent to jail.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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